I like Paul Soglin, not that he would care. He is irascible — and that’s if you are his friend! Brother Mike-boy, at the time chairman of the Dane County Board, recounts the administrator of the county health and social needs department running after the mayor as he stalked away in anger.
“Wait, Paul, we’ve got money for you,” Helene Nelson pleaded. She was waving a check but Soglin was winning the foot race.
For some reason, your Squire likes curmudgeons. (Just once he wishes that Mike Pence would get huffy with The Donald — turn that beatific smile to a Sid Vicious snarl.)
Which explains why Paul Soglin is at odds with the city council. Not over policy but personality. He does not practice the diplomatic arts. Suffers fools not gladly and you, sir or madame, are a fool. That and about half the alders believe they should be mayor, instead. Which is why Mark Clear is spearheading the Mo Cheeks for Mayor campaign. Paul’s campaign bedside manners: chilly with a chance of meatballs.
But Paul Soglin knows city government (and doesn’t he know it!) Comrade Nichols might even call Hizzonner a policy wonk. Paul is on the right side of More Police. Better yet for the political junkie, Paul Soglin adds some Chalupa sauce to the governor’s race that, to this point, was 17 shades of bland on the Democrats’ side. (And we’re not forgetting Cross Plains Woman.) On the campaign trail, he’ll make the rubble bounce.
As Walter White would say, “Let’s cook!”
But Soglin has an achilles heel the size of a Percheron. It’s not so much Fidel Castro. To some extent, Voters Of a Certain Age will chalk that up to the 1960s: great music, fantastic drugs, weird politics. The millennials will wonder why the fuss. A far-away galaxy. Cold war. Richard Nixon. J. Edgar Hoover.
Madison’s big middle finger
The Act 10 intifada of 2011, however, remains fresh and relevant. Soglin actually camped out in the Capitol during the takeover. Did sleeping bags with Thistle, Segway Boy, and Crying Man.
Disruption of the Special Olympics ceremony. Shutting down the M&I bank on the Capitol Square. Ed Schultz’s head exploding on MSNBC live from Monona Terrace. The world’s biggest hissy fit. Paul may not have participated in any of those act-ups, but neither did he denounce them.
The Act 10 emasculation of public sector unions remains a suppurating sore with bitter enders in the teachers union and AFSCME. But Tony Evers and Mahlon Mitchell have their votes. The Bernie Sanders voters will go with Kathleen Vinehout or Mike McCabe.
In the general election, there’s a reason Tom Barrett and Mary Burke stayed the hell away from the issue. Act 10 is popular with voters outside Madison and with most school board members, who are the opinion leaders in places like Endeavor and Crivitz. Schools and municipalities saved something like $5 Billion (with a B) in the first five years of Act 10 and, guess what? Kids are still learning their alphabets. (Revenue caps, not so popular, but Walker is now offering relief to the smaller districts.)
Yes, Walker will run against Madison — the know-it-all at the party. The Problem Of White People for academic credit. Virtue signaling for fun and profit. Quaffing chardonnay at trendy boîtes and sending the tab to mill workers in the valley.
What else you got?
Soglin will claim that Foxconn is a black hole that will burn through the earth’s crust but it won’t have imploded by November 2018. Walker will speak the name of the Democrats’ former Assembly leader. Peter Barca voted for Foxconn.
Taxes? The City of Madison increased its bite on the Stately Manor by 8.3%. Property taxes statewide are lower than when Doyle was governor.
Jobs? Yes, Madison is a house afire. Construction cranes pierce the skyline. Soglin is entitled to take some credit. But that is Walker’s ace card: Wisconsin led the Midwest in job growth over the last year. Our unemployment rate of 3.2% is much better than the nation’s 4.1%. The State is advertising to bring workers IN to Wisconsin. University tuition, frozen five straight years.
On the other hand, only Paul Soglin is making Madison more digitally inclusive.